Can Stress Cause Diabetes? Understanding The Risk And Prevention

Anjali Jaiswal

Anjali Jaiswal
Jul 2023

2 min read
can stress cause diabetes

Table of content

In the fast-paced world, we live in, stress has become an inevitable part of our daily lives. While it is widely acknowledged that stress can contribute to numerous health issues, one question remains prevalent: Can stress cause diabetes?

It affects people from all walks of life and can manifest in various ways, taking a toll on both our physical and mental well-being. 

In this blog, we delve into the fascinating connection between stress and diabetes and explore how stress management can play a vital role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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Can Stress Cause Diabetes?

  • Whenever we think of the causes of diabetes, we usually think of heredity factors (family history), overeating, or lack of exercise leading to obesity as the most common causes. While this is true, we often tend to forget an important cause of diabetes – stress. Several diseases can be caused or worsened by stress and diabetes is also one of the important ones.
  • Stress is a normal reaction that can have various physical and mental effects, including elevated blood glucose levels. Stress by itself does not cause diabetes, but there is some evidence that excessive and chronic stress can increase the risk of developing the condition.
  • If you don’t manage your stress, it might raise your blood sugar levels and put you at risk for diabetes problems. Additionally, it might have a negative effect on your mental health by affecting your mood and how you care for yourself. Stress doesn’t cause diabetes but it can affect your blood sugar levels and how you look after your condition.

Understanding Stress

“Stress can affect you physically, emotionally, and mentally.”

  • Stress is how your body and mind react to new or difficult situations. It might be something short-term like worrying about a presentation you’re giving at work the next day. 
  • Or going to a party where you don’t know many people at the weekend. It can also be something physical like an accident or illness.

Understanding Diabetes

  • Before diving into the connection with stress, let’s briefly explore what diabetes is. 
  • Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder characterized by high blood glucose levels, either due to insufficient insulin production or the body’s inability to use insulin effectively.

Types Of Diabetes

The two primary types of diabetes are Type 1 and Type 2.

Stress And Type 1 Diabetes

  • Type 1 diabetes results from an autoimmune response that destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, leading to insulin deficiency. 

The Effects Of Stress On The Body

Stress, in its various forms, triggers the body’s natural “fight or flight” response, leading to the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. While this response can be beneficial in certain situations, chronic stress can have detrimental effects on the body over time.

  1. Influence On Eating Habits: Stress can lead to emotional eating, where individuals turn to comfort foods that are often high in sugar, unhealthy fats, and calories. Such eating habits, if sustained, can contribute to obesity, a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes.
  1. Insulin Resistance: Chronic stress has been linked to insulin resistance, especially in the abdominal region. This means that cells are less responsive to insulin’s actions, leading to higher blood sugar levels.
  1. Adverse Effects On The Pancreas: Prolonged stress can impact the pancreas’s ability to produce insulin, potentially exacerbating insulin deficiency in individuals with Type 1 diabetes.
  1. Inflammatory Response: Stress triggers inflammation in the body, which can further contribute to insulin resistance and damage beta cells in the pancreas.

Stress and Type 2 Diabetes

  • Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, typically occurs when the body becomes resistant to insulin, and the pancreas cannot produce enough to compensate.
  • While the connection between stress and diabetes is multifaceted, it is particularly relevant in the context of Type 2 diabetes. Stress management is crucial for individuals at risk or living with Type 2 diabetes diet to prevent or manage the condition effectively.

Managing Stress To Mitigate Diabetes Risk

  1. Regular Exercise: Engaging in physical activity helps reduce stress levels by releasing endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones. So, It also aids in weight management and improves insulin sensitivity.
  1. Mindfulness Techniques: Practices like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can effectively reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  1. Healthy Diet: Adopting a balanced diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help stabilize blood sugar levels and combat stress-induced stress eating.
  1. Social Support: Having a strong social support system can provide emotional comfort during stressful times and contribute to overall mental well-being.
  1. Time Management: Properly managing time and setting realistic goals can help reduce stress caused by overwhelming responsibilities.

Management Of Diabetes

Each and every organ system in your body is impacted by diabetes. Keep your risk factors in check and within normal ranges to properly manage diabetes, such as:

  • Follow a food plan, take recommended medicine, and also increase your exercise level to keep your blood glucose levels as normal as possible.
  • Maintain normal blood cholesterol (HDL and LDL levels) and triglyceride levels.
  • Balancing a healthy blood pressure level.

Best Foods To Eat And Avoid With Diabetes

The foods you choose can have a significant impact on managing diabetes and maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Here are some best foods to eat and foods to avoid for individuals with diabetes:

Best Foods to Eat with DiabetesFoods to Avoid or Limit with Diabetes
Non-Starchy VegetablesSugary Beverages
Whole GrainsProcessed Foods
Lean ProteinsSugary Desserts
Healthy FatsRefined Carbohydrates
FruitsHigh-Fat Meats
Dairy or Dairy SubstitutesTrans Fats

Remember, managing diabetes involves making healthy food choices, monitoring blood sugar levels, and working with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to create a personalized meal plan that supports your health and well-being.

What Are The Symptoms Of diabetic Stress?

Diabetic stress, also known as diabetes-related distress, is when people with diabetes feel worried or overwhelmed about managing their condition. Here are some common symptoms of diabetes stress:

Symptoms of Diabetic Stress
Feeling OverwhelmedFear of Low Blood Sugar
Anxiety and WorryFeeling Sad
Frustration and IrritabilityAvoiding Diabetes Care
Feeling TiredTrouble Sleeping
  1. Feeling Overwhelmed: Managing diabetes can be hard, and some people may feel like they have too much to do.
  1. Anxiety And Worry: People with diabetes might feel anxious or worried about their health and the future.
  1. Frustration And Irritability: Dealing with diabetes can sometimes make people feel frustrated or easily annoyed.
  1. Feeling Tired: The stress of managing diabetes can make people feel tired and exhausted.
  1. Fear Of Low Blood Sugar: People with diabetes may worry about having low blood sugar episodes and feel scared.
  1. Feeling Sad: The ongoing challenges of diabetes can make some people feel sad or down.
  1. Avoiding Diabetes Care: Some people may avoid taking care of their diabetes because it feels too hard or stressful.
  1. Trouble Sleeping: Stress can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.

If you or someone you know is experiencing diabetic stress, talking to a healthcare provider or counselor can help. It’s essential to address these feelings to better manage diabetes and improve overall well-being. Remember, you’re not alone, and there is support available to help you through this journey.

How To Reduce Your Stress Levels

Reducing stress is essential for your overall well-being and can help you feel calmer and more relaxed. Here are some simple ways to lower your stress levels:

  1. Take Deep Breaths: When you feel stressed, take slow, deep breaths. Inhale deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. This helps calm your nervous system.
  1. Exercise Regularly: Engaging in physical activities like walking, dancing, or yoga releases “feel-good” chemicals in your brain, reducing stress and boosting your mood.
  1. Talk To Someone: Sharing your feelings with a friend, family member, or counselor can be a great way to relieve stress and get support.
  1. Practice Mindfulness: Pay attention to the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness techniques like meditation or focusing on your senses can help you feel more centered.
  1. Get Enough Sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. A well-rested body can better cope with stress.
  1. Limit Caffeine And Alcohol: While these may provide temporary relief, excessive consumption can actually increase stress levels in the long run.
  1. Do Activities You Enjoy: Engaging in hobbies or activities that bring you joy can distract you from stress and help you relax.
  1. Prioritize And Organize: Create a to-do list and prioritize tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  1. Laugh And Have Fun: Laughter is a natural stress reliever, so watch a funny movie or spend time with friends who make you smile.

Remember, reducing stress is a gradual process, and it’s okay to seek help from professionals if you find it challenging to manage stress on your own. Take small steps every day to create a more peaceful and stress-free life.

How To Cope With Diabetes-Related Stress

Coping with stress related to diabetes is important for staying healthy and feeling better. Here are some simple tips to help you handle diabetes-related stress:

  1. Learn About Diabetes: Knowing more about diabetes can make you feel more in control. Talk to your doctor and read about how to manage diabetes.
  1. Talk To People: Share your feelings with friends or family. They can understand and support you.
  1. Talk To Your Doctor: Be open with your doctor about how you feel. They can give you advice and help you manage diabetes better.
  1. Take Small Steps: Set achievable goals for managing diabetes. Celebrate each success, no matter how small.
  1. Relaxation Techniques: Try calming activities like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to reduce stress.
  1. Check Blood Sugar: Keep track of your blood sugar regularly. It helps you see how stress affects your diabetes.
  1. Eat Healthy And Be Active: A balanced diet and regular exercise can help you feel better and reduce stress.
  1. Don’t Compare Yourself: Remember, everyone’s diabetes journey is different. Focus on what works best for you.
  1. Seek Help: If stress becomes too much, talk to a counselor or therapist who knows about diabetes.
  1. Be Kind To Yourself: It’s okay to have ups and downs. Be gentle with yourself and take care of your well-being.

By using these tips, you can manage diabetes-related stress and live a happier, healthier life.

A Word From Fitelo

Several factors—such as family history, exercise, weight, and age—can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Stress can also elevate your risk, both directly and indirectly. 

Finding ways to reduce and manage your stress levels may help reduce your risk of developing diabetes. It may also help you better manage your blood sugar levels if you have diabetes. 

Look for effective stress relief strategies and talk to your doctor if you are concerned that you might have symptoms of diabetes. Treatments can help you manage your condition and minimize the risk of complications.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can Stress Trigger Diabetes? 

Stress itself doesn’t trigger diabetes, but it can worsen diabetes management in those who already have the condition.

Can Stress Cause Type 2 Diabetes? 

Prolonged stress can increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, especially when combined with other unhealthy lifestyle factors.

Can Stress Affect Blood Sugar Levels? 

Yes, stress can affect blood sugar levels, leading to fluctuations that may be challenging to manage for people with diabetes.

Can Stress Cause Diabetes?

While stress doesn’t directly cause diabetes, chronic stress can contribute to Type 2 diabetes risk factors such as obesity and insulin resistance.

Do You Get Diabetes From Stress? 

No, you don’t get diabetes directly from stress, but it can worsen diabetes symptoms and make management more difficult.

How Can Stress Affect Diabetes?

Stress can impact diabetes by raising blood sugar levels, affecting insulin sensitivity, and making diabetes management more challenging.

Is your Stress A Symptom Of Unstable Blood Sugar Levels?

Stress itself is not a symptom of unstable blood sugar levels, but it can exacerbate fluctuations in blood sugar for people with diabetes.

Is Honey Good For Weight Loss? 

While honey is good for weight loss and is a natural sweetener, it still contains calories and should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet for weight loss.

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Contact Us Today

We’re never leaving you hanging with doubts, queries, as well as confusing questions. We understand how all this information gets overwhelming as well as a little confusing on your way to a healthy lifestyle. Hence, you can always contact us at any time as our experts are here to guide you 24/7. Also, we will help you achieve your weight loss goals.


This blog post was written to help you to make healthy and better food choices altogether. So, be aware and take care. The important thing to consider is your health before starting a restrictive diet. Always seek advice from a doctor/dietitian before starting if you have any concerns.

Eat Healthy, Live Healthy as well as Enjoy a long happy life!

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